Characteristics of Organizational Development

The ability to interact effectively with others can make the difference between success or failure in our work and personal life.
A social system is a complex set of human relationships interacting in many ways. Within an organization, the social system includes all the people in it and their relationships to each other and to the outside world. The behavior of one member can have an impact, either directly or indirectly, on the behavior of others. Also, the social system does not have boundaries...it exchanges goods, ideas, culture, etc. with the environment around it (Schein, 1968).

Culture is the conventional behavior of a society that encompasses beliefs, customs, knowledge, and practices. It influences human behavior, even though it seldom enters into their conscious thought. People depend on culture as it gives them stability, security, understanding, and the ability to respond to a given situation. This is why people fear change. They fear the system will become unstable, their security will be lost, they will not understand the new process, and they will not know how to respond to the new situations.

Individualization is when employees successfully exert influence on the social system by challenging the culture.
Organization Development (OD) is the systematic application of behavioral science knowledge at various levels, such as group, inter-group, organization, etc., to bring about planned change. Its objectives is a higher quality of work-life, productivity, adaptability, and effectiveness. It accomplishes this by changing attitudes, behaviors, values, strategies, procedures, and structures so that the organization can adapt to competitive actions, technological advances, and the fast pace of change within the environment (Cunningham, 1990).

There are seven characteristics of OD:

1. Humanistic Values: Positive beliefs about the potential of employees (McGregor's Theory Y).

2. Systems Orientation: All parts of the organization, to include structure, technology, and people, must work together.

3. Experiential Learning: The learners' experiences in the training environment should be the kind of human problems they encounter at work. The training should NOT be all theory and lecture.

4. Problem Solving: Problems are identified, data is gathered, corrective action is taken, progress is assessed, and adjustments in the problem solving process are made as needed. This process is known as Action Research.

5. Contingency Orientation: Actions are selected and adapted to fit the need.

6. Change Agent: Stimulate, facilitate, and coordinate change.

7. Levels of Interventions: Problems can occur at one or more level in the organization so the strategy will require one or more interventions.

A well-used axiom in organizational behavior thought asserts that values ultimately drive our behavior. In a nutshell, values exert influence over our attitudes, and attitudes influence our behavior. Values are integral to attitude formation and to how we respond to people and situations (Kerns, 2010). Extensive literature exists dealing with how values relate to effective managerial leadership. A review of this body of work leaves us with the clear picture that values are a key component of effective managerial leadership.

There seems to be a subset of virtuous values that align with ethical behavior. In his book, Authentic Happiness, Martin Seligman has reviewed these core virtuous values that influence ethical behavior and appear to have universal appeal (Kerns, 2010).

? Wisdom and Knowledge: The capacity to take information and convert it to something useful. Wisdom comes from capitalizing on one's experience to interpret information in a knowledgeable manner to produce wise decisions. A prerequisite to doing the right thing when facing an ethical dilemma is knowing what to do, knowing the difference between right and wrong.

? Self Control: The ability to avoid unethical temptations. The capacity to take the ethical path requires a commitment to the value of acting with temperance. Ethical people say "no" to individual gain if it is inconsistent with institutional benefit and goodwill (Kerns, 2010).

Solution Summary

The ability to interact effectively with others can make the difference between success or failure in our work and personal life.
A social system is a complex set of human relationships interacting in many ways. Within an organization, the social system includes all the people in it and their relationships to each other and to the outside world. The behavior of one member can have an impact, either directly or indirectly, on the behavior of others. Also, the social system does not have boundaries...it exchanges goods, ideas, culture, etc. with the environment around it (Schein, 1968).

Culture is the conventional behavior of a society that encompasses beliefs, customs, knowledge, and practices. It influences human behavior, even though it seldom enters into their conscious thought. People depend on culture as it gives them stability, security, understanding, and the ability to respond to a given situation. This is why people fear change. They fear the system will become unstable, their security will be lost, they will not understand the new process, and they will not know how to respond to the new situations.